Category Archives: Interview

Bisexual Activism in Serbia: An Interview With Radica Hura

Labris speaks with Radica Hura, Serbian bisexual activist, founder of Facebook page Biseksualke i Biseksualci Srbije The Bisexuals of Serbia and moderator for bisexual community UB Net

Radica Hura, Serbian bisexual activist

Radica Hura, Serbian bisexual activist

Labris: Can you tell us about your own bisexuality and how it has influenced your activism?

Radica: I see my bisexuality as part of my identity, a part of me, as if it were my skin, my eyes… It is a part of me and somehow it was logical for me to do the activism because I wanted to find more people like me and to inspire them to speak about it. It is something natural to me to speak about it and to inspire others to speak as well. Although it is not visible, you cannot be silent about that part of who you are. Like I said, it is part of you, it’s natural.

When did you perceive your bisexuality? How much of that was confusing to you and how much was liberating?

I perceived that I was different when I was 12, but somehow in that time I thought that we all should be silent about it. We all are like that, but we should be silent about it. I didn’t notice when it was a boy or a girl, but I noticed it was a person I was attracted to. But I was speaking only about boys because everyone told me it should be so. Like, all girls are attracted to boys but about girls I was silent. When I was 17 I decided I should speak about it. Why not? I didn’t hear anyone else speaking about it, but I said that I must speak it so I spoke out about it. First to my family then my friends. My mother didn’t understand my own bisexuality – she understood how some people were gay and some people were straight, but not how people are bisexual. She said that this wasn’t possible, that it was an unhealthy lifestyle. So it was for two years that I was trying to be straight or gay. I lived three months as straight and three months as gay, and it was like hell, it was really hell… because it was like I was forced to do something I really don’t like. Then one day at breakfast I told my mother I can’t be gay or straight, and she says I know. I spoke to my friends but they didn’t take me seriously. Even the girls I dated at that time didn’t take it seriously, they said “oh, we are all going through a phase and in the end we are going to get married and everything…” and I said “But that’s who we are how can you say that” and they would say “Yes but you know…. It’s a phase. It will all go away.” But I knew it couldn’t go away. Then the boys I dated said “Oh that’s so great, we can have a threesome,” so they weren’t taking me seriously. No one was taking me seriously. And then I involved myself in LGBT activism and realized that no one is speaking about bisexuality there. So here in Serbia, even the boys or girls who were bisexual were silent, so I said okay, I’m going to speak about this. So that was the first bi visibility day in 2013. I am running a page to form a group for support – not an organization because I don’t think that the bisexual community can stand alone, because it is a common fight, the goals are common, we have all suffered the same discrimination and violence and homophobia – because bi people also experience homophobia on top of biphobia because they are in same sex relationships. So I do not believe in bisexual activism standing alone, because I believe it has an equal part – you know, where all the letters, the community parts can be heard and go into the fight equally.

Is there an organization or association in Serbia providing support to bisexual people?

Currently, I don’t think there is one. I was the one who spoke first that I know of – if there is someone, let’s make contact! – but I was the first one who spoke about it. I run a [Facebook] page and people write me there, so I’m ready, if I’m able, to provide that support, to speak with them, to run workshops, to speak about the problems. But associations or group support? There is none currently. My page is all online though, and anyone can comment on that page of bisexuals of Serbia, and there I can speak about almost anything. ‘

In the acronym LGBTIQ, there is a B for bisexuals. How much attention does that get here in Serbia and in the world?

There is one really strange wave in the world in the community itself of bisexual erasure. It is done very silently and viciously, but I don’t think that everyone in the LGBTQ community is like that. Those are powerful circles [that practice bisexual erasure], but they are not powerful enough to fully do bisexual erasure. So I don’t think that will happen. In America, as I have noticed, there are organizations that are coming out and doing work independently, but on the level of Europe, everything is together but bisexualism is excluded. If you ask people about that letter, they tell you it is a “wrong theory.” The biggest organizations have written that they are for the protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people, but then in practice they say to you that is a wrong theory. Even bisexual people themselves will say “oh, I used to tell people I was a bisexual but not anymore because I or they think it is a wrong theory.” So there is a strong biphobia. But then in Serbia and other traditional countries, it becomes a double identity. If you come out as bisexual, it is seen as easier because your family assumes that you will eventually get married and end up straight. They won’t accept it – even if you are bisexual you won’t be accepted – but it is easier because that person can hide their bisexuality. But that is why we need to do this support – to say that no, it is not the pressure of a family for people to say they are bi, because we suffer the same, I think, as gay and lesbian people. But we are bisexual people and we have the need to be able to say it is not about the pressure of the family, it is about who we are.

On the 23rd of September, it is Bisexuality Visibility Day. Will the day be marked here in Belgrade?

I came out for the first time to mark the date last year, and I hope that this year in 2014 it will be marked as well. And I hope that others there are to both hear and prepare that because I don’t want to stand alone for all Serbian bisexuals, so if others joined that would be great.

 

Radica can be contacted via her Facebook page Biseksualke i Biseksualci Srbije — The Bisexuals of Serbia, and more of her personal story can be found here.

U.S. officials affirm support of LGBT rights in foreign policy at summit

By Michael K. Lavers on December 6, 2013

Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization in Serbia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization in Serbia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Global LGBT rights factored into Human Rights First’s annual summit that took place this week at the Newseum in downtown Washington.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice stressed support of LGBT rights remains an essential part of U.S. foreign policy during a speech she gave on Dec. 4. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday said equality for LGBT people, women, immigrants and those with disabilities are “examples of what we can accomplish if we persevere against what is often long-standing prejudices.”

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Thursday criticized the Russian and Cuban governments’ human rights records.

The Republican, whose family fled Cuba after the 1959 Cuban Revolution during which Fidel Castro took power, singled out Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro. Ros-Lehtinen again criticized the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum and other organizations that have honored Mariela Castro for her LGBT advocacy efforts in Cuba.

“Mariela Castro does not support LGBT rights, no matter how many fake awards and medals are bestowed upon her,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It is fundamentally impossible to support LGBT rights without supporting human rights more generally.”

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post on Thursday moderated a panel on how the U.S. can advance LGBT rights abroad.

Russian journalist Masha Gessen, Kaspars Zalitis of the Latvian LGBT advocacy group Mozaika and Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization of Serbia were panelists. Russian LGBT Network Chair Igor Kochetkov had also been scheduled to take part in the panel, but he cancelled his appearance at the summit due to recent threats against his organization.

“I am very sorry that I cannot be with you,” said Kochetkov in a statement that Capehart read. “The current situation around LGBT organizations is seriously complicated, with attacks on activists and ordinary members of the LGBT community.”

Gessen said during the panel she feels the Russian government has launched “an all-out war on LGBT people.”

She noted Russia’s highest court earlier this week upheld the broadly worded law that President Vladimir Putin signed in June that bans gay propaganda to minors. Gessen said she expects the lawmaker who has proposed a bill that would strip gays and lesbians of custody of their children will reintroduce it after the 2014 Winter Olympics take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Gessen said she, her wife whom she married in the U.S. in 2004 and their children plan to leave Russia in less than three weeks.

“This is the Kremlin’s worldview,” said Gessen as she further discussed her aforementioned decision and the Kremlin’s ongoing LGBT rights crackdown. “This is really what Putin and his cronies think. They think that we are the enemy; we represent the enemy of the Russian state and the enemy of Putin personally and that mysterious foreigner that is out to destroy Russia and the traditional family and the Orthodox culture.”

Zalitis noted Latvia’s Central Election Commission last month allowed anti-LGBT groups to begin collecting signatures for a referendum on whether to introduce a measure that would ban gay propaganda in the former Soviet republic. Latvian voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Nothing bad is going to happen because we’re prepared for anything,” said Zalitis in response to Capehart’s question about what may happen to him and the other panelists once they return to their home countries. “[Latvia is] not Russia. It’s not Uganda. It’s not Saudi Arabia. I’m going to go back and we’re going to keep fighting.”


Todorovic said LGBT Serbians continue to confront homophobia, transphobia and violence in spite of recent legislative advances that include the approval of an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in 2009. An LGBT-inclusive hate crimes statute takes effect in January.


The Serbian government in September cited threats of violence from anti-gay extremists for the reason it decided to cancel a Pride march in Belgrade, the country’s capital, hours before it had been scheduled to take place. Todorovic said the U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby and officials from Sweden and the Netherlands had planned to take part in the event.

“Sometimes it is good to have the support, but sometimes even the support and pressure are not enough,” she said.

Founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, Human Rights First seeks to advance global human rights. The organization has offices in D.C. and New York.

The summit took place less than a week before the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for global human rights,” said Human Rights First President Elisa Massimino on Dec. 4 as she opened the summit. “We urge our government to respect human rights at home and use its influence to encourage them abroad.”

Zalitis and Todorovic told the Washington Blade in separate interviews they welcomed the opportunity to attend the summit.

“It is good to see how you are doing things here [in the U.S.] and to adjust to our reality,” Todorovic said.

Washingtonblade